France Media Agency A woman cries out in despair in front of a destroyed building in the Al-Maghazi refugee camp on Tuesday in the Gaza Strip.
Adel Zaanoun – Agence France-Presse and Anne-Sophie Labadie – Agence France-Presse respectively in the Gaza Strip and Jerusalem
January 17, 2024
- Middle East
The Israeli army intensified its deadly strikes on Wednesday against the southern Gaza Strip in the fourth month of its war against Hamas, ahead of the expected delivery of medicine to Israeli hostages in exchange for aid to the besieged Palestinian population.
Witnesses reported nighttime bombings near the Nasser hospital in Khan Younes, where, according to Israel, leaders of the Palestinian Islamist movement Hamas, classified as a terrorist organization by the United States and the 'European Union.
Citing “the most difficult and intense night” of Israeli bombardment in Khan Yunis since the start of the war, Hamas announced the deaths of at least 81 Palestinians in the city and elsewhere in Gaza , where the UN spoke of a “risk of famine” and “deadly epidemics”.
The Israelis “told us to go south, we went south, but there is no safe place in Gaza, neither in the north, nor in the south, nor in the center. Everything is targeted, it’s dangerous everywhere,” laments Oum Mohammad Abou Odeh, who fled Beit Hanoun (north) for Rafah, in the south, on the border with Egypt.
The war, which devastated the Palestinian territory and displaced 80 percent of the civilian population, was sparked by an unprecedented Hamas attack on October 7 in southern Israel that left 1,140 people dead, mostly civilians, killed that day, according to an AFP count based on official figures.
Some 250 people were taken hostage and taken to Gaza during the attack, around a hundred of whom were released during a truce at the end of November. According to Israel, 132 remain detained, of whom 27 are believed to have died.
In retaliation, Israel vowed to annihilate Hamas, which seized power in Gaza in 2007. According to Hamas' health ministry, 24,448 people, the vast majority women, children and teenagers, were killed. in Israeli ground operations and aerial bombardments.
“Worse than an earthquake”
The Israeli army has reported a new toll of 193 soldiers killed since the start of its ground offensive on October 27 in Gaza, where the Internet and telephone shutdowns are almost complete. total for six days.
In central Gaza, Palestinians inspect the damage caused by fighting and shelling on Salaheddine Street, littered with twisted pieces of metal, broken windows and rubble.
“It was the electricity company building,” said Aziz al-Moussadar, a displaced Palestinian, pointing to the destroyed buildings around him.
The [Israeli] occupying forces left behind an earthquake. It's worse than an earthquake. There are still martyrs under the rubble and rotting corpses,” he said.
The bombings razed entire neighborhoods of Gaza, caused a major humanitarian crisis and knocked out more than half of the hospitals in the small, overpopulated territory that has been under an Israeli blockade since 2007 and on which Israel has imposed a full siege on October 9.
On Tuesday, the Qatari mediator announced an agreement between Israel and Hamas on the entry of medicine for the hostages in exchange for aid for civilians in Gaza.
According to a security source, a plane carrying these drugs arrived in El-Arich, Egypt, near Rafah.
Hamas said it refused Israel's inspection of the medicine convoy before its entry into Gaza. But Israeli authorities have rejected such a possibility.
At least a third of the hostages suffer from chronic illnesses and require treatment, according to the Hostage Families Collective “Bring them home now”.
In Nir Oz, a kibbutz near Gaza, the collective is organizing a symbolic birthday for the youngest hostage, Kfir Bibas, kidnapped at the age of nine months and whose birthday falls on Thursday.
Hamas announced in November the death of the baby, his brother and his mother, killed according to the movement in an Israeli bombardment. Israel has not confirmed this information.
“It’s crazy to plan the birthday of someone who isn’t there, to put up all these balloons, to make cakes,” says Yossi Schneider, a relative.
10 Palestinians killed in the West Bank
In the West Bank, Palestinian territory occupied by Israel since 1967, ten Palestinians were killed in drone strikes by the Israeli army and fighting in the regions of Nablus and Tulkarem according to Palestinian sources.
The army, which has intensified its operations in the West Bank since October 7, presented one of the slain fighters as the leader of a “terrorist cell” who was “planning an imminent large-scale attack “.
The war also raises fears of a conflagration in the region.
While exchanges of fire are daily between the Israeli army and Hezbollah on the Israeli-Lebanese border, the head of the UN, Antonio Guterres, warned that a “total confrontation” between the two parties would be a “disaster complete.”
And after new bombings in Yemen against the Houthi rebels, responsible for attacks against merchant ships in the Red Sea, the United States announced that they were designating these insurgents as a “terrorist” entity. But the Houthis, who say they are acting “in solidarity” with the Palestinians, have warned they will continue their attacks.